Handicap Options

4 Replies

BP crew, i have a question because I have not dealt with anything like it in the past. I have had a tenant in one of my multi-units for roughly 7 years now and have the past few months have progressively gotten worse in health. In fact, the last two weeks he has been in the hospital with congestive heart failure and 100% oxygen.

He has since made it back home and now has oppcuational theropy coming into the unit and providing assistance. One of the requests that the theropist had was to make the apartment more handicap friendly, i.e. grab bar in the bath and more saftey issues through out.

My question is, what is my responsibility with this? Should I put up the bar and other items or since it was not leased as a handicap apartment do nothing? Again, i have not had to deal with this situation before and just looking for advice.

Thanks crew.


@Randy Lance

it's a tough decision & can get expensive, but.....

We have an elderly tenant (Veteran) who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrigs. We did make a lot of design changes to accommodate him as the home was a total rehab & we knew ahead of time the challenges he would be facing. He has always paid on-time & his kids take very good care of the property.

Another elderly tenant (chronic COPD) can no longer climb the stairs so we added a small shower stall to the lower half bath & he now lives on the lower floor. He has not missed a payment in 9 years & as his health continues to fail he has been very appreciative of our accommodating him. His friends & neighbors continue to take care of the property.

I like Pat L. story, worked great and tenants appreciative. You might ask your tenant if he would have the Ocupation Therapist or his Case worker to call you with the kinds of adaptations you would need to do, and if there is a way the state or medicare can pay for them since he does not own the home.

It is good to invest in making units more accessible, as it benefits not only people with disabilities but others as well. We have made a few standard upgrades for people who request it, such as chair height toilets and hand rails. We took out carpet and put down linoleum for a tenant in a wheel chair.

On more than one occasion social service support agencies have done the modifications (with our approval) and paid for it. Oversee the quality of the work. We have some very long term tenants (two over 20 years, three over 10 years) who wouldn't have stayed otherwise.

Also, most leases provide for the tenant to return the unit to the original condition after move out if you so desire. You must allow for reasonable accommodations.

[Disclosure: I worked at a major medical center for fourteen years as the ADA coordinator and manager of accessibility services, so it's easy for me to see the possibilities. No legal advice.]

As a landlord, you have to make "reasonable accommodations". Typically, that entails you permitting the tenant to fund those sorts of modifications to the unit, with you retaining control over who is hired to do work and the quality of workmanship and materials. Often, there are agencies that can give a grant to fund these types of modifications for the tenant's benefit. And you are permitted to require that funds be made available to undo the modifications and restore the units to original condition at move out. @Marcia Maynard has already covered some of this earlier.